Types of Cutting Agents Added to Cocaine and Their Effects

Drugs & Alcohol

Types of Cutting Agents Added to Cocaine and Their Effects

Once cocaine hits the streets in America, it is often cut with a bunch of agents to buff it out. This gives dealers a bigger profit.

Cocaine purity hovered around 69% in 2004. However, in recent years, purity levels have gone up. It’s much easier to get higher quality drugs.

Still, it’s almost impossible to get pure cocaine. Any coke purchased on the streets will contain other chemical agents in them. These cutting agents may cause negative reactions within the body.

Learn more about cutting agents and their effects here. We’ll also explore how pure coke affects the body.

How Coke Is Made and Delivered to America

Pure coke is made from coca leaves that can be harvested in only three countries: Bolivia, Colombia and Peru. It’s also commonly referred to as coke or blow.

Turning coca leaves into powder cocaine involves three steps.

  1. Coca leaves are made into coca paste
  2. Coca paste is rendered into a cocaine base
  3. Cocaine base becomes cocaine hydrochloride

The entire process involves the use of chemicals like sulfuric acid, sodium carbonate, kerosene, and potassium permanganate.

According to data collected in 2014, coca farmers receive anywhere from $1.30 to $3.00 per kilogram of coca leaves. Between 450 to 600 kilograms of coca leaves are needed to make 1 kilogram of cocaine base. This means that the base cost for cocaine base is at most $1,800.

The ratio for converting cocaine base into cocaine hydrochloride is 1:1. This means that the base cost for a brick of coke is about $1,800. That’s still a far cry from the cost of a brick, or 1 kilogram, of coke in America.

To turn a profit, Colombian dealers sell one kilogram of pure cocaine for around $2,200 to $7,000 at Colombian ports. The closer to the port, the more expensive the cocaine becomes, as it is much more accessible. Those who purchase cocaine from the jungles will get much better prices.

The kilogram of coke will then need to pass through Mexico before it can hit the streets of America. In America, the price rises to $24,000 to $27,000 when purchased wholesale. At this part of the supply chain, the brick of coke is still relatively pure.

The Art of Cutting Cocaine

The Art of Cutting Cocaine

Once it reaches America, the coke usually goes through several hands. To make an even larger profit off of the coke, each supplier will cut it with various substances.

This basically means that the pure coke will be buffed with other chemicals and drugs. This dilutes the coke purity but stretches profit.

For example, if a supplier purchases a brick of pure coke for $18,000, he may buff it at a 1:1 ratio with a cheaper drug. This means that he’ll end up with 2 bricks of coke. If the cutting agent only costs $5,000 in total, it means that he now has two bricks of blow for only $23,000. If he sells both bricks for $20,000, he’ll profit $22,000 from that one transaction.

This goes on and on until the coke reaches small-time, street dealers. At which point, the cocaine is usually diluted by a significant amount. It contains many different types of cutting agents and buffers. It’s impossible to determine what’s in a sample without thorough testing.

Popular Coke Cutting Agents

Popular Coke Cutting Agents

Various types of additives are added to cocaine. Some are more addictive and harmful than others. Common cutting agents that are relatively harmless include:

  • Caffeine
  • Creatine
  • Laxatives
  • Laundry detergent

These cutting agents come in a white powder form that looks similar to street cocaine. They’re not too dangerous although small particulates can build up in arteries. Large quantities can cause blockages in the brain, liver or heart.

Some of these cutting agents may make users feel more anxious or paranoid. For example, caffeine is equally likely to raise blood pressure and heart rate. The combination of caffeine and coke can work together to cause feelings of intense anxiety.

Unfortunately, some cutting agents are much more dangerous than others. They can even cause fatal overdoses. Common dangerous cutting agents include:

  • Benzocaine
  • Boric acid
  • Fentanyl
  • Levamisole
  • Lidocaine
  • Mannitol
  • Novocaine
  • Phenacetin

These agents can be very toxic. When mixed with coke, these drugs can cause a bad reaction in many users.

Common dangerous cutting agents

Benzocaine

Benzocaine is a popular anaesthetic used by dentists. It can be found in various forms.

This cutting agent is commonly used because it has a similar numbing effect as blow. It also comes in the form of a white powder, so it is easy to mix with pure coke. A kilo of benzocaine is also extremely cheap. It can cost as little as $50 although that price is significantly higher on the black market.

Those who snort coke laced with benzocaine are at risk for developing some very serious health complications. In worst-case scenarios, it can lead to a life-threatening condition known as methemoglobinemia. This condition involves having abnormal levels of hemoglobin in the bloodstream. Less and less oxygen becomes available to various tissues until it causes the tissues to die.

Common symptoms of methemoglobinemia include changes to one’s skin color and blood color.

If hemoglobin levels rise above 15%, patients will experience cardiac and neurologic symptoms. If the levels rise above 70%, the condition becomes fatal.

Boric Acid

When added to pure cocaine, boric acid heightens the anesthetic effects of the drug. The acid also looks like cocaine crystals, so it’s easy to mix in with the cocaine. Many buyers are none the wiser. Considering the fact that this chemical is used to manufacture ant and rodent pesticides, it is highly toxic. In fact, many experts would label it as a dangerous poison.

Due to its toxic nature, ingestion of large quantities of boric acid can lead to death. Blow laced with boric acid often causes numerous neurological and physical conditions. It’s definitely one of the worst cutting agents to have in coke.

Fentanyl

A recent rise in overdoses is due to fentanyl. Fentanyl is a powerful opioid that is not only stronger than heroin but also 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

This synthetic opioid is often prescribed to treat advanced stages of cancer. Unfortunately, only a small quantity can cause a fatal overdose.

Fentanyl is relatively cheap when compared to the cost of pure coke. As a result, it’s often added to blow since it has similar properties. However, even just a few milligrams of fentanyl can have devastating effects. According to data collected by New York City, 44% of the 1,300 overdoses in 2016 involved fentanyl.

Fentanyl has the same side effects as opioids. It even kills in the same way by stopping a user’s respiratory system. Those overdosing from fentanyl will basically look like they’re drifting off to sleep. The only difference is that they’ll stop breathing once they’ve dozed off.

The good news is that naloxone is an antidote for synthetic opioids. If administered on time, naloxone can save lives.

Levamisole

Most physicians prescribe levamisole to kill parasitic worms. It was used to treat both humans and livestock in the past; however, this anthelmintic drug as found to cause agranulocytosis.

Agranulocytosis is a condition that wipes out all white blood cells in the body. White blood cells are soldiers the body uses to fight against bacteria and other germs. Without them, the body is highly susceptible to a wide range of illnesses and diseases. With this condition, patients can actually die from small scratches and minor infections.

The reason levamisole is used as a cutting agent is that it increases dopamine levels in the brain. This enhances the euphoric effects obtained from snorting the drug. It makes the cocaine feel stronger although it’s less pure.

More and more cocaine seized by the DEA contains levamisole. In 2011, 73% of seized narcotics tested positive for levamisole. By 2012, it was found in 90% of Danish cocaine. It’s still a popular cutting agent.

Lidocaine

Lidocaine is a local anesthetic that usually kicks in after 30 seconds and lasts for 20 minutes. Its numbing effects have made it an ideal buffing agent for coke. Unfortunately, cocaine and lidocaine work off of each other.

A lidocaine-laced blow can cause acute toxicity, and cause seizures and convulsions. Equal amounts of both drugs have a magnifying effect. Just 5mg/kg of cocaine and lidocaine can create a seizure that is identical to taking 20mg/kg of coke.

Coke laced with lidocaine can also trigger arrhythmia and cause confusion and drowsiness. Users may also experience blurred visions. Some of these symptoms are temporary; however, their intensity can worsen with time and cocaine abuse.

Mannitol

Mannitol is used to cut heroin and coke. It has anti-caking properties that keep the drugs in a powdered form. This makes it look as if the cocaine was not buffed at all, so it can fetch a higher price on the black market.

Mannitol is a dangerous substance as well. It can cause health complication to those who are allergic and to those with a history of heart disease failure.

Novocaine

Novocaine is similar to lidocaine. It has similar properties and causes similar side effects. It’s often used as a cutting agent because it has a numbing effect that mimics cocaine. This makes it difficult for users to identify whether their drugs are laced or not when doing a taste test.

Cocaine laced with novocaine can cause heart problems and seizures. It can also cause confusion and drowsiness as well.

Phenacetin

Phenacetin used to be a popular painkiller. It has since been removed from the market because it caused a number of negative effects and reactions. Most importantly, it’s been found to be carcinogenic.

The ingestion of phenacetin can result in the following serious side effects:

  • Dizziness
  • Death
  • Heart failure
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Swelling of the tongue

100% Pure Cocaine and Its Effects

It’s difficult to find pure cocaine on the streets. Those who succeed are likely paying double, if not triple, the regular price.

Higher purity cocaine is stronger, which also means that it is much more dangerous although that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

The effects of the drugs are more pronounced when snorting or ingesting pure cocaine. Users are immediately hit with a rush of euphoric sensations. They feel energetic, powerful and alert. Due to the intensity of these feelings, most users are unlikely to need a second line soon.

As the night progresses and users snort more lines, they either feel amazing or terrible. For some users, the strength of pure cocaine can result in unsavory side effects, like anxiety.

Common Side Effects of Pure Cocaine

Common Side Effects of Pure Cocaine

Users often experience side effects when snorting pure cocaine. They’re basically the same side effects as cut cocaine; however, the effects are more severe. Common symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Hyperstimulation
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased body pressure
  • Loss of appetite
  • Paranoia
  • Panic
  • Tactile hallucinations
  • Nausea

Some users will have a terrible time the entire night until the effects wear off. These users have not yet developed enough tolerance to the pure drug. In these cases, chasing the desired high can also become quite dangerous, as it’s easy to overdose.

Long-term cocaine use can lead to the development of severe depression. Addicts may often experience suicidal thoughts. These thoughts can persist for months after users have become sober.

The Increased Danger of Pure Cocaine Use

The Increased Danger of Pure Cocaine Use

The main difference between snorting pure cocaine and buffed products will be most noticeable the rest of the night. Since coke is a vasoconstrictor, pure coke can likely stop or damage an addict’s heart.

Pure cocaine is much more likely to cause overdoses and acute heart damage. Users who snort pure cocaine when they are used to buffed drugs can easily overdose. Their usual dosage becomes much more potent. Instead of doing three lines, their body may only be able to handle one.

The Comedown of Abusing Pure Cocaine

The Comedown of Abusing Pure Cocaine

There’s both good news and bad news when it boils down to the comedown involved with snorting pure cocaine.

The bad news is that high-quality, pure cocaine generally causes a fairly bad comedown. It’s not uncommon to feel glum and depressed. Pure drugs significantly boost chemical and neurotransmitter levels within the brain. To recover from this artificial boost, users will feel an array of negative reactions. Most feel washed out, while others feel grumpy or paranoid. It’s to be expected.

The good news — or semi-good news — is that addicts won’t feel the extra side effects that come with cutting agents. They also won’t have to deal with the potential dangers involved with mixing several drugs together. For example, fentanyl-laced cocaine can be very deadly.

It’s Bad News Either Way

Regardless of whether an addict is snorting pure or cut cocaine, it’s bad news either way. The chemical effects of both can irreversibly damage the body, especially when it is used for long periods of time. Long-term addicts will face more intense withdrawals and suffer from more severe side effects.

Quitting is not as easy as it looks. Those who are addicted and looking to get sober should speak to one of our counselors immediately. Our counsellors can help assess various situations to determine what the best course of action may be.

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Types of cutting agents added to cocaine and their effects

2019-10-10T20:21:18+00:00May 29th, 2019|31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Bob Dole March 10, 2018 at 3:17 am

    Thanks for the information.
    Great site.

    • Avatar
      Northpoint Staff May 18, 2018 at 10:40 pm

      Thank you for taking the time to post and share your appreciation, we appreciate you!

  2. Avatar
    Thauã Aguirre July 17, 2018 at 7:02 pm

    I’d just like to point out that Fentanyl killed Prince in 2016. It’s so potent it’s also laced with many other recreative drugs. Even other opioids, like Heroin and Morphine. When a lethal dose of Fentanyl is found on a deceased, the death is chalked as Opioid overdose straight away, regardless of what the person was using at the time. Many dealers add it to their product withouth any regard as to how lethal the drug really is; in order to attract more potential buyers. That ends up feeding into the narrative of the Opioid Crysis and downplaying the role drug traficking overall has in this mess.

    • Avatar
      Northpoint Staff July 26, 2018 at 3:01 am

      Thank you for the insightful information.

  3. Avatar
    Sarah July 29, 2018 at 4:14 am

    I had smoked I guess a bad batch of crack….my left arm swollen to the size of a wrestler with UNBEARABLE PAIN
    I had to call an ambulance because the pain was so bad I couldn’t take it.
    The ambulance rushed me to the ER they gave me Morphine to stop the pain
    I am a petite woman .my arm swole very quickly, within an hour of smoking crack to the size of a wrestler with excruciating pain beyond words..It took a week for the swelling to go down and I was BEDRIDDEN for a week.
    Can anyone help me understand what happened?

    • Avatar
      Northpoint Staff September 8, 2018 at 5:10 pm

      Thank you for sharing your experience. Did the hospital do any bloodwork to determine what was in your system? They would likely be the best to contact and know what happened, and determine if you are allergic to something that was in the mix. Best of luck!

  4. Avatar
    NoHopeDope August 11, 2018 at 7:42 pm

    I never understood the “cutting” or “lacing” anything with Fentanyl,…… I broke my neck several years back, and was prescribed Fentanyl patches in several different dosages throughout my recovery. The medicine I was prescribed, was so expensive, I don’t understand the logic of using it for cutting. To me, that would be like attempted murder,…I’ve heard on the street that addicts look for drug dealers who sell dope that people overdose on because they are looking for “strong” stuff?!?!? To me, I would think the best stuff would be,…limestone dust, or drywall dust, or anything for that matter, so long as it was free!! Heroin here is cheaper than Fentanyl and other opiates, here enlies the epidemic. People on pain medication can’t afford it, so that’s why they turn to heroin,….
    Does this make any sense??

    • Avatar
      Northpoint Staff September 8, 2018 at 5:02 pm

      Thanks so much for this insightful information. Illegal drugs can be cheaper than the legal drugs, which is part of the reason for the epidemic we are currently facing.

  5. Avatar
    Marky October 27, 2018 at 5:41 am

    The fentanyl is made in other countries like Mexico and sent here for cheap. Its obviously made in a lab by drug lords. There is alot od fentanyl and carfentanal on the streets. Insurance companies are tired of paying addicts to keep goin to a nice rehab for a few months and then relapse. Then return to another facility. People here in aouth florida were body brokering. A BCBS PPO is gold to these people. I got an unpaid medical bill from a facility and they screened urine, the facility tried charging over 24,000 for urine screens. And the lab it went to? I didn’t see a lab at the location. Fake company

    • Avatar
      Northpoint Staff October 31, 2018 at 5:44 am

      Thank you for adding to the discussion, Marky! It is ludicrous that you received a bill for that amount, we are glad to know that it was a scam. $24K for screening seems a tad on the steep side! Best wishes.

  6. Avatar
    Desiree October 29, 2018 at 6:19 am

    I don’t understand why they would add a powerful downer to cocaine… This to me, would make me think I got some bullshit because coke shouldn’t make you feel the same is if you’ve done opiates…. Not even a little bit! And they could be potentially killing people due to the fact that many of the people who do coke don’t do opiates! Can someone please explain the logic behind this??

    • Avatar
      Northpoint Staff October 31, 2018 at 5:40 am

      Some individuals seek a state similar to being “cross-faded”, and will try multiple avenues to experiment with various effects. It most definitely does not seem logical, thank you for your input!

  7. Avatar
    Dude November 10, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    After years of using opioids the drug addicts need Fentanyl to even get high they build a tolerance. So they made car Fentanyl even stronger then Fentanyl and every drug addict wants it in there heroine or they don’t get a good enough high -.-

    • Avatar
      Northpoint Staff November 10, 2018 at 9:35 pm

      Thank you for sharing your perspective.

  8. Avatar
    Greg Barber November 23, 2018 at 1:28 pm

    Well Children … I am 68 years old and only use anything very seldom…and then it just reminds me why I don’t use regularly..I started in 69 and pretty much quit in 94.. With many long stretches of alcohol only..Like from 75 to 88 . But then from 89 to 94 much cocaine use…and according to the chemist that testified in my trial you could not get it any more pure if you got it from the jungles of Columbia,,, wish I already knew….so. Your story here is interesting and has some good info but also some very wrong stuff.. Esp.about the effects of use…people with naturally weak hearts or vascular systems can OD much easier than a normal person…I know many people who do line after line for days on end with little no food….usually lots of alcohol….till they just shut down….then it’s sleep and eat….eat and sleep for a few days…get some things done that need doing then do it all again…some do this for months…some for years almost all eventually quit and chi on with a normal life with no major bad side effects and some very crazy memories…of what they can remember…Your story…..good read but needs more research..Sorry

    • Avatar
      Northpoint Staff November 23, 2018 at 9:05 pm

      No need to apologize, Greg. Thank you for sharing your experiences, sharing your thoughts and adding to the discussion.

  9. Avatar
    Alejandro Olvera Rico December 4, 2018 at 5:28 am

    Hello, very nice information, i would like to know what happens when it’s combined with just creatine..

    • Avatar
      Northpoint Staff December 4, 2018 at 4:01 pm

      Thank you, Alejandro! Your question would be best answered by contacting our professionals at the number listed here on the website. We look forward to hearing form you.

  10. Avatar
    Bill December 18, 2018 at 10:37 pm

    A friend just returned from a tropical vacation where he bought a gram of supposed cocaine. He is not an addict and it’s purely recreational a few times a year. He noticed a ‘speedy’ sensation which usually means it has been cut with something and eventually flushed 3/4 of it down the crapper. Who knows what it was cut with? I told him that was a stupid move and he agreed, but at least he had the sense to throw it away. A week and a half later he still has a lightheaded/foggy feeling side effect from it and is hoping it will go away. I hope so too.

    • Avatar
      Northpoint Staff December 19, 2018 at 8:43 am

      Oh, Bill, we are sorry to hear that your friend is going through this. We wish him and you the best.

  11. Avatar
    L February 9, 2019 at 6:38 am

    Okay I’ve been doing coke heavily off and on, if you describe yourself as a logical human being with regulations, this drug is okay to do. If you have and control a craving to do coke and can regulate it to a point u can afford and doesnt affect friends or family, do it and not become addicted, do it. Dont do it too much. I was told specifically, if done this way, it is okay. And obviously if u don’t expirimenent with new shit that you don’t know what its cut with that can kill (fentyenol)

    • Avatar
      NorthPoint Staff February 15, 2019 at 5:37 pm

      The danger in using cocaine is that you can never be 100% sure what it is cut with. Even if you are getting from the same person, their supplier may change, experiment, etc. Since Fentanyl is extremely dangerous and deadly, it will always be a risk. You describe having a craving to use, which is addiction. You also mention regulating yourself, but mostly when you use the same amount over a period of time (for any drug) you build up a tolerance and then have to use more and more to gain the same effect, which is typically the reason people begin experimenting with other drugs. We wish you all the best, but drug use is never okay to experiment with.

  12. Avatar
    Anonymous April 9, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    I’ve used coke off and on since I was 23 I binged for 3 months with a room mate did it 4 nights a week mostly on weekends and we never stopped functioning we would sleep it off on Sunday eat and drink water then continue on to a normal work week with occasional hits throughout the week it is advisable to never use coke with alcohol as it can xause serious complications by enhancing the effects of the cutting agents and the chemicals used to process the leaves into paste and paste into powder. I agree cocaïne can be highly addictive bit again it depends on a individuals tolerance self control and the way they use it. I’ve never gotten addicted to coke I’ve binged a grew weeks or months then just stopped but when I tried crack with a friend and my brother in law it literally took my soul I found myself going from recreational use to stealing and fighting my children’s mother for money and when I didn’t have money I would either beg or steal or front it from my dealer and got to owing a large amount of money to him and I’m sure if we wouldn’t have left that city I would have been dead in a few days. Lesson here is don’t experiment and don’t do it daily it is possible to manage recreational use of drugs but is difficult in turn because everyone reacts differently to them.i mean who hasn’t gone out partying and done coke or weed or pills because it was around and available. Even our grandfather’s, lawyers judges it specialists can claim some part to this wether they have been in legal trouble or got away with doing it.anyways my point is it is unwise to experiment without knowledge of the effects and origins of any drug. So just don’t do it!

    • Avatar
      NorthPoint Staff April 10, 2019 at 4:42 pm

      Thank you for sharing your experiences! We agree to not experiment as you never know what will trigger addiction and/or what could have been added to what you are taking making it extremely dangerous. We wish you all the best on your journey!

    • Avatar
      David July 15, 2019 at 11:14 am

      I have been a casual user of cocaine. The frightening thing is I went from a small amount a couple times a week to $150 a day almost without realizing what I was doing. I became deceitful and used money I should have used to take
      my children on vacation or nights out. I realized it made me become a bad dad, employee, and son. Fortunately I feel hope for recovery as I am on that road. Unfortunately, I have spent over $35k in a year and for the longest time I lost my love for life and the things I should have valued most. I lost that because all I was concerned about was getting my next high. Some may never seem to have as intense of an episode as I do, but drugs and other addictions cause us to focus inward and they isolate us from the ones that love us and we should love. I find it hard to come to terms with the time I stole and lost from my children. The money is the least of the concern. Being alive but having lost your life is painful. Death itself is just the final symptom of a life lost. Let’s recover.

  13. Avatar
    Gazza May 15, 2019 at 3:47 am

    For approximately 8yrs now have been binging with crack on and off days to weeks at a time then not using nothing.I suffer from severe anxiety and suicidal tendencies which I have without the crack anyway but it just intensify after my binging. My opinion is yes the high is good however the negative out way the positive.I don’t feel same nomore.best things in life for highs is spending time with parents/partners/children/loving yourself more and find something you can do that is possitive.All my life I have been doing drugs and I want the day to come in normal whatever that is and happy.All the best in your journey through life just try do the right thing which we all know…from UK here peace to all who can relate never give up trying to make yourself a better person/life.

    • Avatar
      NorthPoint Staff May 15, 2019 at 8:40 pm

      Thank you for sharing your story! We wish you all the best!

  14. Avatar
    Zoe May 22, 2019 at 1:04 pm

    I am 29 and have been using coke for 3 years now. I met a good friend who does it as well so thats how I ended up switching suppliers. Her supplier makes me have extreme nausea and dehydration the next day. And it doesnt go away until I have a bowel movement. sometimes its like diarrhea and sometimes not but it is a clear indication that my old supplier and my new one are cutting the product with different agents. I do plan on quitting soon because I can tell the excessive use from twice a month to about 5 times has caused my asthma to flare up ALOT more. I get really short of breath more oftwn shortly after use and wake up feeling clogged up and TERRIBLE the next day.

  15. Avatar
    Jacob Borum July 20, 2019 at 8:42 am

    Don’t do drugs. Especially coke.

    • Avatar
      NorthPoint Staff August 1, 2019 at 4:04 pm

      We agree!

  16. Avatar
    robert miller August 16, 2019 at 11:01 am

    Got to be one of the scary things I read in a while screw that stuff

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